Web Analytics History – Part 2 – SEO Becomes A Thing

Click here to read Web Analytics History – Part 1

In my last web analytics history post I mentioned that the reason we ended up switching to from web log files to cloud based analytics (Hitbox was the first one I can remember) is that the server logs were getting too big when combined together.  A million visitor site was getting at least 10 gigabytes of “hit” data, and the old Webtrends reports could not run properly.  Remember back in 2000 you had to move files around at pre-gigabyte rates, so just file moving was a big issue.

Sampling Data Is Never Going To Be Accurate

Anyway, this leads to what I refer to as “sampling”.  Sampling means that you will never have complete accuracy in the data.  But just the fact I could dive deep into the page views and visitor data through my browser for the first time was amazing.  I was able to get some basic KPIs (Key Performance Indices) for the first time.  There was no turning back, real analytics for the web was here to stay.

SEO before there was SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

So, in late 2001 when I was a web analyst on a big ecommerce company, we had just founded Pre-Dating.com, the speed dating company.  We found out right away that how we placed our text into title tags, keywords, meta tags, H1, H2 meant life or death of our fledgling speed dating company.  Since then, if you put the key word terms “Speed Dating Fort Lauderdale” or “Speed Dating Seattle” or most any city, our site comes up pretty high in the natural search if not #1.  Now we have some advantage with the aging of the domain “Pre-Dating.com“.  Sometime around early 2005, I was working on a web analytics gig for VictoriasSecret.com using Coremetrics as well as abcdistributing.com, when somebody pointed out to me that SEO is now a growing consulting field.   I understand the value of it, but not to the extent that the market valued SEO.  I was and I am an expert at SEO because of my experience.  A few of the guys who chatted with me about SEO became innovators in the field and some had multi-million dollar SEO companies within a year or 2.  Did not see that coming.

Anyway, the final part of this is Web Analytics was kind of pushed aside for these SEO cowboys who came to town and were all about SEO, which was getting more natural traffic, sometime the right way and sometimes black hat.  We were experts at this already, but the SEO guys and gals rode this train from the station.  Sadly enough the SEO people have relegated Web Analytics to a minor task. That would be a big mistake in most of these large enterprises.  If you are in a business that is serious about your data and your site, then it is critical you get somebody working on it today.  You need strategic thinking, business management skills, understanding of programming and web technology (helps to be a developer), being a writer and presenter.  That is the skills we bring. StrategicPoints can do this for you.  We have over 20 years of web experience and we can do the job. Contact us through this form below:

In-Page Google Analytics, The Killer Web Analytics App

The Killer Web Analytics App

Today I noticed this new Google Analytics feature in Beta called In-Page analytics. Very simply it is the ability to pull up a specific web page and visually see all the clicks, sales, conversion rates and some other stuff by every link on that web page. They have had this around in the past, but not at this quality of usability for zero dollars.

This is not a new feature, in fact, its just Google Analytics catching up with all the enterprise analytics companies in the market such as Omniture/Adobe, Coremetrics/IBM and Webtrends. Is this good news? Great news for users of analytics, because it makes life a lot easier to analyze stuff visually. Well its not good news for the old guard of web analytics as Google chips away at features that used to cost thousands per month. This is basically another step towards devaluation of analytics tools. Not sure how many companies are out there still doing analytics. I remember at a conference when Mr. Stern declared that there were 83 web analytics companies at the time around 2003. And I have seen new ones join the fray in the last few years while old ones like Hitbox have become a thing of the past, being gobbled up with Omniture, which was feasted on by Adobe.

Why Is This In-Page Analytics Different?

Well this in page analytics is not actually as you surf your website. That is a major difference with competitors and how they run. Typically they almost all worked like this. You turned on some application that is local or browser based, so either you download something or click on a new add on per a browser and then surf the site. This required a lot of effort to surf around and honestly the in page analytics I used by Omniture/Adobe and Coremetrics/IBM hardly worked. In fact even their staff steered us away from it. This new Google In-Page Analytics has really created a great feature, where it grabs the page from the website and it all seems to work… Nice.

How To Use In-Page Analytics

Quite simple to use. Just login to your google analytics account and click on CONTENT in the left side bar and you will see a red BETA next to In-Page Analytics. Once you click on In-Page Analytics you will notice that your home page shows up. Notice that links have a little div/verbiage above them with a stat like 1% or 50%. That stat and others are showing you what percentage have clicked through, purchased, and how much they have purchased.

Hitting It Out Of The Park

So this proverbial Holy Grail of web analytics seems to do all and suffer none when changing to use revenue, goals, or any other analytics. Yes, the bigger enterprise solutions do have more bells and whistles and flexibility when it comes to in-page analytics, but you have to admit this is pretty much an amazing tool. You could quickly look over your home page or any page and make a determination visually what link is working well and what does not work well. This turns web analytics into a real science and brings this cool method to the masses.

Google Event Tracking Analytics Tag Explained

Event Tracking Basics

First off, Event Tracking is a new feature in Google Analytics. If you are already a user, it is a different thing you have to implement with tagging. So if you are not an existing implementer of Google Analytics, you will have to start from the beginning.

I have been working with Web Analytics for over a decade, and there isn’t an analytics program on the market in the top 3 or 4 that I have not worked with, from Webtrends, Coremetrics, Omniture (Now Adobe), to Google Analytics.

So recently when I was asked to write a short spec on the Event Tracking tag and how it works in Google Analytics, I had to look carefully at this tag. It could be confusing, because Google Analytics typically does not use a lot of tagging. You just pop it in there and it works! Good news though, is that 99% of Google Analytics users won’t need another tag, unless they want to dig deeper (or have to).

So, as a reminder, the basic chunk of Google Analytics code looks like this:

<script type=”text/javascript”>
var gaJsHost = ((“https:” == document.location.protocol) ? “https://ssl.” : “http://www.”);
document.write(unescape(“%3Cscript src='” + gaJsHost + “google-analytics.com/ga.js’ type=’text/javascript’%3E%3C/script%3E”));
</script>
<script type=”text/javascript”>
try {
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(“UA-XXXXXXX-X”);
pageTracker._trackPageview();
} catch(err) {}</script>

You get this when you login to Google Analytics, go to edit your account and click on “check status”. If you need more info on how to do this, I am going to write an in depth overview of google analytics and will cover the basics in that article.

Basically replace the UA-XXXXXXX-X with your code, or grab the full javascript code from www.google.com/analytics/ , pop this code into your html, and you are ready to go with Google Analytics.

Extra Tags & Event Tracking

There appears to be about 5 or 6 extra tags for Google Analytics (depending on what article you view on the web), and finally 2 extra tags for the checkout process. By tag, I am referring to lines in the analytic javascript code block. The big one that seems to be getting lots of attention recently is Event Tracking by Google Analytics. This is because it is new in their program and answers a lot of problem areas that Google Analytics did not cover in the past.

The basics of Event Tracking are you add a line of code per event. This would mean adding the following line:

pageTracker._trackEvent(category, action, optional_label, optional_value)

to the google analytics javascript block. I would place it right above
pageTracker._trackPageview();

You would replace the variables in _trackEvent in order to produce specific tagging of Events.

Category

The Category is used as the highest level tracking. This means it ties together all the other variables and should not be too unique per line. It is required. This means if you are tracking a series of events, you would keep this the same per event page or action. If you are tracking a WebForm for instance, then keep all of these the same wording like “Web Form” so they are grouped together.

Action

The Action is used to track the type of so called ‘actions’ the web surfer is taking. So for this example, you would use “Viewed Form” or “Completed Form” or “Received Error” or something similar.

Labels

The label is used to show additional info about the event you are tracking. It is kind of like giving a page a title. In this case this could be “Seeing Form On Page” or “Filled Form Out” or “Got Error On Form”, or it could just be “Form Page”. If it is unique that is fine as well.

Values

The values field is an Integer or Number field, so it often won’t apply. A great article about about this subject, the Event Tracking Guide, says that it is great for counting or summing things up like download time.

That’s it for now. There will be a future article on my success or failure in implementing the event tracking in Google Analytics.